Queen Marie-Amélie’s Diamond Parure

Today marks the 240th Anniversary of the Birth of Queen Marie-Amélie of The French, who was born on this day in 1782! The Bourbon-Two Sicilies Princess who married the Duke of Orléans in exile and then unexpectedly became the Queen of the French, Queen Marie-Amélie possessed quite a few splendid jewels, including this spectacular Diamond Parure!

Orléans Sapphire Parure | Pearl and Sapphire Parure | Diamond Parure

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But first, lets learn about Queen Marie-Amélie! The tenth of eighteen children of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies and Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria, Princess Maria Amalia of Naples and Sicily grew up during the turmoil of the Napoleonic Wars, living in exile in Austria and later under British protection in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, after Naples was occupied. In 1809, Princess Maria Amalia married Prince Louis Philippe d’Orléans, the Duke of Orléans, a controversial match as his father had voted for the execution of of her uncle and aunt, King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. The couple had ten children, and moved to France after the restoration of the Bourbon Monarchy in 1814, and again in 1817, getting back the majority of the massive inheritance of the House of Orléans, and settling at the Palais Royal in Paris, which was lavishly refurbished and became a centre for Paris society. After the July Revolution of 1830, the Duke was made the King of the French, and despite being loyal to the Bourbon Monarchy, the new Queen Marie-Amélie resigned herself to her new role, saying: “Since by God’s will this Crown of Thorns has been placed upon our heads, we must accept it and the duties it entails.” After a subdued reign marked by religious duties and charitable work, when the King was forced to abdicate after the 1848 Revolution, Queen Marie-Amélie said to the presiding minster “Ah Monsieur, you were not worthy of such a good king!”. The family went into exile in England and lived a private life at Claremont House, where the now widowed Queen Marie-Amélie supported her grandson’s reconciliation with the Count of Chambord, the head of the senior Bourbon line, who made him his Heir. When she died in 1866, the Queen asked to be buried as the Duchess of Orléans at the Chapelle Royale de Dreux.

When Princess Maria Amalia of Naples and Sicily married Prince Louis Philippe d’Orléans in 1809, she wore a ‘diamond tiara and two large white ostrich feathers’, which was part of an extensive diamond parure of twenty-eight pieces that included some family heirlooms given as a wedding gift from her parents, King Ferdinand I and Queen Maria Carolina of the Two Sicilies. The Parure was among the seven parures in Queen Marie-Amélie’s collection, which included the Orléans Sapphire Parure, with the diamond parure inventoried in 1839, then consisting of:

– A detachable tiara that makes 15 individual pieces. Its decor contains a tendril leaf work with palmette motifs (57,600 francs).
– Two Rivièren necklaces with diamonds in open settings. One is set with 36 diamonds (21,000 francs), the other with 43 diamonds (18,300 francs).
– A ‘Devant de Corsage’ decorated with a leafwork set with diamonds and to which seven ‘Pendeloques’ were attached – the middle one of ‘stately size’ (23,000 francs).
– A square brooch with a cross motif in the centre, set with 13 large and several small diamonds (13,300 francs). This piece of jewellery was preserved and worn by the Countess of Paris (photo).
– A pair of earrings ‘en Girandole’, each with five pendants (8.950 Francs).
– One belt buckle, with 80 regularly arranged diamonds (8,950).
– A pair of portrait bracelets with medallions surrounded by diamonds and connected with several ‘diamond strings’ (5,200).

As she never considered herself the legitimate Queen of France, the Queen Marie-Amélie only wore her personal jewels throughout her husband’s reign, though was not depicted wearing the Diamond Parure.

   

Queen Marie-Amélie probably gave the Diamond Parure to her daughter, Princess Clémentine of Orléans, when she married Prince August of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, one of the largest landowners in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1843. The Diamond Parure was eventually inherited by her son, Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, and was worn by his daughter-in-law, Queen Giovanna of Bulgaria, with Queen Elena’s Floral Tiara for a portrait with her son, Tsar Simeon II, in exile in Madrid in the 1950s.

   

After Tsar Simeon’s marriage in 1962, the Diamond Parure came into the possession of Queen Margarita, often worn with Queen Elena’s Floral Tiara and the Bulgarian Köchert Tiara, for a plethora of events through the 1960s, including the Wedding Ball of King Constantine II of Greece and Princess Anne Marie of Denmark in 1964, the Wedding Ball of Prince Karl of Hesse and Countess Yvonne Szapary von Muraszombath Széchysziget und Szapár in 1966, and Wedding Ball of the Margrave of Baden and Archduchess Valerie of Austria in 1966

In 1994, the Diamond Tiara of the Parure and smaller ornaments were worn by Doña María García de la Rasilla y Gortázar when she married Konstantin-Assen, Prince of Vidin, the fourth son of Tsar Simeon and Tsaritsa Margarita.

In 2017, Queen Marie-Amélie Diamond Parure, along with Queen Elena’s Floral Tiara, was on sale at the Bessel Fair, belonging to the Zebrak Gallery in London. It is unknown when the Royal Family decided to sell the Parure, but they have faced years of legal battles in Bulgaria over restitution of their properties, which may have necessitated the sale of this historic parure.

Orléans Sapphire Parure | Pearl and Sapphire Parure | Diamond Parure

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Royal Magazin

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